How former foes worked together to help save these rare giraffes

To move giraffes in Kenya from a flooding island to a safe new home, onetime enemies cooperated—and built a modern-day ark.

A team of rescuers made up of people from the Ruko Conservancy, the Kenya Wildlife Service, Save Giraffes Now, and the Northern Rangelands Trust ferry Asiwa to a newly built sanctuary on the mainland, using a homemade barge constructed from metal drums, steel beams, and tarps.

There was a time, not long ago, when peace between the Pokot and the Ilchamus seemed impossible. Living along the shores of Kenya’s Lake Baringo, the two communities had spent decades waging war over cattle, land, and water—turning one of Kenya’s most biodiverse regions into a barren battlefield.

In 2006 Pokot and Ilchamus elders reached a truce in their bitter conflict. They agreed that to build unity and trust, the former enemies would work together to bring back the wildlife that their conflict helped drive out—starting with the Rothschild’s giraffe.

These giraffes’ numbers are dwindling. Only around 2,000 remain in the wild, and 800 of those live in Kenya. The Rothschild’s giraffe, also known as the Baringo giraffe, was once abundant around Lake Baringo, but the iconic breed went extinct in the area after decades of conflict and poaching. (Masai giraffe subspecies declared endangered)

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